Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies
Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

Student Spotlight: Álvaro Céspedes

Fri, November 16, 2018
Student Spotlight: Álvaro Céspedes
Álvaro Céspedes

Álvaro Céspedes is a dual master's degree student in Latin American Studies (LLILAS) and Journalism who is already making his mark as a reporter in Texas. His recent story about peyote, broadcast on the syndicated radio show Texas Standard, can be heard at this link. Céspedes responded to some questions from fellow LLILAS student Reina Kim for this Student Spotlight. 

What brought you to LLILAS?

I was born and raised in Mexico City. After finishing my BA degree in International Relations in 2012, I worked in different areas, mostly related to governmental communication. I took my writing interests more seriously when I started doing freelance work as a journalist for a number of outlets and publications in Mexico City. This motivation brought me to Austin, where I started my MA in Journalism in 2016. I approached LLILAS after this because I knew I needed a deeper understanding of Latin America’s history, sociology, and anthropology if I wanted to achieve my goals of doing investigative and solution-intended journalism in such a diverse and complex region. Currently, I’m in my third year of a dual master’s degree in Latin American Studies and Journalism.

What are you working on?

I’m working on my MA thesis for LLILAS, an ethnography centered around an organization of Quechua women in Ayacucho, Peru. They came together and formed the Asociación Nacional de Familiares de Secuestrados, Detenidos y Desaparecidos del Perú (National Association of Families of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared, ANFASEP) in 1983 to pressure the government about human rights abuses during the peak years of the conflict, mostly committed against their family members. Currently, they are in the process of creating La Hoyada, a public site of memory of the conflict located in what used to be a mass grave where the military tortured and murdered a still unknown number of civilians. My work compares the narrative of memory coming from these indigenous female victims with the discourse offered by the state, especially in the national memory museum (El Lugar de la Memoria, la Tolerancia y la Inclusión Social, LuM) in Lima.

How did you become interested in this topic?

Because collective memory plays such an important role in the formation of national identity, I was interested in learning more about the contested narratives in the creation of physical sites of memory. Human rights abuses in the recent past in Peru have been a matter of national debate. Reparations coming from the state have been insufficient, and thousands of relatives of victims are still demanding justice in different forms. Symbolic reparations have included the creation of spaces in which people can mourn, and where new generations can learn about what happened in the past and victims can find long-sought peace.

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  • Teresa Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies

    University of Texas at Austin
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    2300 Red River Street D0800
    Austin, Texas 78712